Last September, I stumbled upon an IndieGoGo page asking for donations to “Send WAM to the 137th AES Convention!” Their plea for funds was told by an endearing indie music video with lyrics like:
Help send WAM to the the AES Convention,
Where we’ll see the latest audio inventions.
The largest expo of audio professionals,
WAM’s booth will make AES more accessible.
WAM stands for Women's Audio Mission, and it is “a San Francisco-based non-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of women in music production and the recording arts.” Their page explains that “in a field where women are critically under-represented (less than 5%), WAM seeks to ‘change the face of sound’ by providing hands-on training, experience, career counseling and job placement to women and girls in media technology for music, radio, film, television and the internet. WAM believes that women's mastery of music technology and inclusion in the production process will expand the vision and voice of media and popular culture.”
Now, this was something that I could get behind.
As I female audio professional, I feel the effects of the lack of gender diversity every day. In my ten-year-plus career, I have often (read: almost every day) found myself in a room of all men. I have lead teams comprise solely of men. I remember feeling as a college student and young audio engineer that my future career was a complete mystery because I had no female role models from whom I could sculpt that idea.
But, I have also experienced the amazing thing that happens when women are included in the process: the creativity quotient of the group rises exponentially. This isn’t because women are more creative than men, but instead because we think differently than men. We have had different life experiences and thus often find ourselves with a different perspective than the male sound designer sitting next to us. So, when you put us all in one room together, we can help each other to mold our ideas (and our sound design processes) in ways that we hadn't previously considered. Increased gender diversity while approaching a sound design dilemma can often lead us to approach the issue from an unexpected angle, and that means that we often end up with an unexpected result. In a creative field where creating a truly new sound is often our daily goal, we are always striving for the "unexpected result." And that one new result can lead to more spring-boarding from that idea in the future. When I had a mixed-gender team, I can honestly say that it was the most creatively engaged that I have ever seen my team. For those reasons, when Jeff and I first spoke about all of our ideals for starting a new company, gender diversity was a key founding principal that we could easily agree upon.
So, I donated to WAM. I wanted to help to “change the face of sound,” but I also wanted to help make AES (Audio Engineering Society's yearly convention) less intimidating for young people. Because, let’s face it, all that new technology in one giant room can be intimidating to anyone just beginning to build a knowledge base.
The young women of WAM were successful in reaching their goal, and were able to afford their plane tickets, hotel stay and admission to AES in Los Angeles. But, the donations did not stop there. With the funds raised with IndieGoGo campaign, they were even able to fund their secondary cause, “Girls on the Mic,” which provides over 650 underserved girls ages 11-18 with musical instruments, recording gear, access to female mentors, exposure to career opportunities, and free education in music production and recording arts.
I was stoked that my donation had helped them to reach their goal, and felt good about being a part of a cause so dear to my heart. But, I also received the added bonus of a stupendous surprise a few weeks later when I was notified that my name had been drawn to win a RealTraps acoustic treatment kit in the post-fundraising raffle.
When I joined Boom Box Post in January, I was able to put that kit to good use. On the recommendation of Noelle Duncan, WAM’s Development and Communications Associate, I called RealTraps and spoke to an incredibly helpful employee about how best to install them in my unique sound editorial room at BBP. I can honestly say that I have never spoken to someone who was so genuinely interested in helping me to use their product in the optimal way. I also visited their website and made good use of the extensive installation advice and diagrams before deciding on an arrangement and hanging them.
Now, my editorial suite not only sounds better, but it looks amazing as well. So, I would like to say a huge thank you to both WAM and RealTraps!
Here’s to changing the face of sound and doing it in style!